Choosing a Natural Laundry Detergent: The Ultimate Guide

With an ever-growing awareness of our impact on the planet and the risk of toxic chemicals in the home, you may be looking twice at the products in your home. While you may immediately think about the chemicals under the kitchen sink, one of the places where dangerous chemicals are often hidden is in your laundry room. 

Choosing a Natural laundry detergent

What to Avoid In a Natural Laundry Detergent

Your favorite laundry liquid or powder is no doubt effective, but have you ever stopped to think about how they achieve such results? It has a lot to do with the warning labels on the side of the box...they’re jam-packed with over 25 toxic chemicals. 

From endocrine disruptors that impair your body's hormonal responses, to optical brighteners that hide stains and irritate skin, your traditional detergents most often contain:

  1. Phosphates - linked to cardiovascular (heart) disease as well as osteoporosis. These toxins are particularly damaging to the marine environment when dispersed in wastewater from your wash.
  2. Bleach - often used to brighten whites, its toxic fumes cause respiratory distress and on contact with skin and eyes it is able to cause caustic burns.
  3. Formaldehyde - A chemical usually associated with the preservation of dead bodies. This toxic ingredient as classified by the EPA , is a class B1 probable carcinogen. This means it has been linked with an increased risk of cancer. 
  4. Ammonium Sulfate and Ammonium Quaternary Sanitizers - harsh cleansing agents that are corrosive and toxic. They can cause eye, skin and lung damage even with minimal exposure. 
  5. Dioxane (1,4 Dioxane/ Diethylene Dioxide/ Diethylene Ether/ Dioxane) is quite possibly one of the worst additives. Dioxane is also a carcinogen and has been known to pose a combustion risk. Exposure to this toxin can damage your kidneys, lungs, central nervous system, eyes, skin and respiratory function. 

Not only are these chemicals dangerous for human beings, but they also wreak havoc on our marine environments through their residues in wastewater. You can read more about this in our blog about the toxicity of laundry detergents.

What Makes a Laundry Detergent ‘Natural’?

So are all detergents bad? No, there are in fact many naturally derived laundry detergent options now on the market that make it easier than ever to avoid chemical exposure and protect our marine environment. 

Natural in the context of detergents means utilising surfactants that exist in nature. These foaming agents are derived from coconut, tea seed oil, soap nuts etc rather than synthetically created. Synthetic detergents are most often derived from petrochemicals -  which is just another way in which they are harmful to our environment. 

Additionally, synthetic detergents strip the skin and are blended with a multitude of other ingredients to create laundry detergent. Natural surfactants are gentler and safe enough to use on the most sensitive of skin. 

What Natural Laundry Detergent Solutions Are Out There?

If by now you're convinced you need to walk away from your previous laundry detergent, you’re no doubt wondering what your alternatives are. If you're not averse to making a mess at home, you may like to try making your own using borax, washing soda and soap flakes. However, these homemade remedies have been known to build up on clothing and in washing machines so proceed with caution. 

However for an easier, mess-free solution that is still free of harsh toxins, there are a variety of natural alternatives available.  

natural detergent vs traditional laundry detergent

Best Natural Laundry Detergent Solutions

So what are the best natural laundry detergent solutions and how do you tell them apart?  To avoid any risk of greenwashing it is best to thoroughly read the ingredients on any detergent that claims to be natural. Not all natural laundry detergents are created equal. The best natural laundry detergents on the market should:

  • Be packaged in waste-free packaging, paper or cardboard is ideal, but avoid those pesky plastic detergent bottles that end up in landfill or our waterways. 
  • Use natural whiteners like sodium carbonate and sodium percarbonate, no toxic bleaching agents. 
  • Only use naturally derived fragrances. 
  • Us natural surfactants (sudsing agents) such as coconut, tea seed oil or soapberries.
  • Have its ingredients listed clearly and in an easily understood format - no hidden nasties.
  • Not be diluted unnecessarily with water or filler ingredients like starches which can build up on your clothes and in your washing machine. 

Kind Laundry Sheets - Ticking All The Boxes

At Kind Laundry our motivation is to help save the planet one wash at a time. Our award winning laundry sheets contain just 5 naturally derived ingredients and come in completely compostable packaging - even the mailers. Each sheet is highly concentrated and completely mess free - so you can avoid gooey detergent jugs or powder spills. The most important part? Our sheets leave no harmful residues on your clothes or in wastewater, just fresh, clean washing, the way it should be. 

Try Kind Laundry today and enjoy a clean environmental conscience and clean washing. 

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